FRIDAY REVIEW

Celebration of Mumbai

ROMESH CHANDER

The Mahindra Theatre Fest featured "Cotton 56, Polyester 84", which traces the growth of the modern city.

The last two days of the Mahindra Theatre Festival witnessed some of the most meaningful presentations including, "Cotton 56, Polyester 84" presented by Arpana, Mumbai that won three awards - best original script (Rama Ramanathan), best actor (Nagesh Bhonsle) and best production (Arpana, Mumbai).The company was founded in 1985 "by a group of theatre professionals committed to presenting contemporary theatre to discerning audiences". Over the years it has staged 19 productions. Its work is characterised by contemporary and original texts by Indian and international playwrights (in translation), strong performances, minimalist staging, and innovative use of music and design. This combination has allowed them to perform comfortably in the most sophisticated theatre venues, or in completely improvised non-traditional spaces.

Growth of a city

The play is about the saga of Mumbai, Girangaon and traces the growth of the modern city through its various phases of development from an industrial centre based on cotton textile mills. It is an effervescent community spawning a popular culture wherelife revolved around work in the cotton mills, and living in crowded chawls . The density, chaos and the oppressive nature of this living enticed workers to the freedom of the streets. This in turn created a vibrant and virulent culture, in spite of poor wages and conditions. Modernisation, and the attendant struggles of the workers of Girangaon, set up the present battleground for the city's future - mills replaced by malls, and chimneys by glass towers, the old laying siege on the new. This is a celebration of Mumbai."Cotton 56, Polyester 84" is one of the best plays that brings home the reality of an economic system that enriches the rich and cuts at the roots of organised labour that stands in its way.

Right atmosphere

Director Sunil Shanbag often uses sound and light as key elements to create the right atmosphere of the working class. It is a pity many theatregoers may have missed the play. It must be brought to Delhi again to reach out not tothe theatregoers alone, but the people as such. * * *And the winners areBest Play: Cotton 56 Polyster 84Best Director: Amal Allana (Nati Binodini)Best Actor (male): Nagesh Bhonsle, Cotton 56 Polyster 84Best Actor (female): Salima Raza, Swaroopa Ghosh, Sonam Kalra, Natasha Rastogi (Naiinodini)Best Supporting Actor (Male): Tu Nachiket PurnapatreBest Supporting Actor (Female): Nutan Surya (Chekov Ki Duniya)Best Choreography/ best stage design: Atul Kumar (Numbers in the Dark)Best Sound Design: Gowri Ramanarayan (Dark Horse)Best Lighting Design: Pradeep Vaidya, (Tu) and Sujay Saple (Numbers in the Dark)